Speaking of passion, there isn't anyone who exudes it more than Berlin-based teacher, Raksan. Readers of this blog will know how much I love her dancing. When she dances she does so with every fibre of her being. It's magical.
A couple of weekends ago, she was back in the UK, teaching for Sabine Dawson in Salisbury. The first workshop was Gypsy Fantasy - Balkan Beats and Wild Women. We were invited to 'explore our passion, sensuality and wildness'. It was really enjoyable to learn some basic technique, listen to the music and just let go.
Sunday's workshop, aimed at Intermediate level and above, was completely different. Billed as 'Contemporary Oriental Dance a la Raksan', it was quite challenging for anyone without a background in ballet or contemporary dance, but really rewarding nevertheless. We spent the first two and a half hours doing stretches in preparation for dancing, and it was great to feel that loosened up and flexible when we started putting together dance sequences.
The workshop made me realise how unrealistic it is to expect to achieve that level of skill without putting in the work. And unfortunately, belly dance has always been judged as an 'easy' dance to learn. It certainly isn't - especially if you want to achieve a professional level. And watching Raksan dance certainly inspired me to work on my own dancing.
Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
-- Harold Whitman
Having just completed another JWAAD Teacher Training course that I had organised in Stroud with Beatrice Curtis and Jan Piggott, I came home, put my feet up and reflected upon the weekend. The women on the course were great - friendly, supportive, eager to learn, and passionate about the dance and teaching. They had all expended money, time and energy on the course because they wanted to improve their teaching skills to better inspire that passion and enthusiasm in others. What better motivation to teach than that?
I have never found anything as rewarding as teaching belly dance. Women often come to their first class feeling inadequate, unconfident and unhappy with their appearance. They may be women who haven't exercised in years and are looking for a new hobby, they may be women who've just had a baby and want to get themselves back in shape, they may be women, who, with a million and one pressures in their daily lives, just want to take time out to do something for themselves.
Whatever their reason for coming, they usually don't bargain for the immense personal transformation that follows. Women rediscover who they are, reawaken that sensual goddess that lurks within all of us - and blossom in the most extraordinary ways. And for a teacher, it's really exhilarating to witness.
I have been learning and teaching this dance now for many years. Yet, I realise that on some level, I always resisted giving myself to it completely. And I know I'm not alone in this; I've met so many other women who feel the same.